A Better Rifle at Halloween

Just a question that has been bothering me since I start enjoying your wonderful thread, what the hell will happen in Halloween?
Simple enough (I presume ūüėĀ)

OTL Halloween 1914 was when the first Reserve Forces engaged the Boche .. and of course no surprise it was the London Scots in the lead

At Messines IIRC
though sho knows where that might be iTTL ? (presumably @diesal ;)
 
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Sooty

Banned
Oh? Do tell!
First paragraph,
British prisoners of war murdered, beaten, starved, worked to destruction, their emaciated bodies a mass of suppurating ulcers, their enlarged eyes bewildered by their suffering: these are the images we have of those unfortunates who fell into the hands of the Japanese during the second world war. Few realise that this was also the plight of many of the 171,720 Tommies and their officers captured on the Western Front during what we are inclined to think of as the more gentlemanly war of 1914-1918.

Other things mentioned in the article, 1 in 5 surrendering troops were shot or bayoneted out of hand, the German Red Cross refused any medical aid to prisoners, Red Cross parcels were confiscated and given to German troops, prisoners were pelted by stones faeces and urine by the German civilian population, they were basically stripped of everything they owned down to some only having their underwear. Rations were 100g of black bread and two bowls of thin soup a day. Over 3000 prisoners died of communicable diseases. They could be shot for minor infringements of camp rules, many died of hypothermia.
That's a synopsis of the offences against the Hague Convention carried out by the Germans in WW1.
 
First paragraph,
British prisoners of war murdered, beaten, starved, worked to destruction, their emaciated bodies a mass of suppurating ulcers, their enlarged eyes bewildered by their suffering: these are the images we have of those unfortunates who fell into the hands of the Japanese during the second world war. Few realise that this was also the plight of many of the 171,720 Tommies and their officers captured on the Western Front during what we are inclined to think of as the more gentlemanly war of 1914-1918.

Other things mentioned in the article, 1 in 5 surrendering troops were shot or bayoneted out of hand, the German Red Cross refused any medical aid to prisoners, Red Cross parcels were confiscated and given to German troops, prisoners were pelted by stones faeces and urine by the German civilian population, they were basically stripped of everything they owned down to some only having their underwear. Rations were 100g of black bread and two bowls of thin soup a day. Over 3000 prisoners died of communicable diseases. They could be shot for minor infringements of camp rules, many died of hypothermia.
That's a synopsis of the offences against the Hague Convention carried out by the Germans in WW1.
Hmmmm Did they treat all their prisoners so poorly, or just the Brits?
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Hmmmm Did they treat all their prisoners so poorly, or just the Brits?
War brutalises men. For balance, there are numerous recorded occasions when British & Imperial troops killed German prisoners out-of-hand, either through the actions of individuals, or acting as a unit. No Prisoners was an order that was not unknown - for example some Canadian platoons at Courcelette adopted that stance following the death of an extremely popular senior officer. Clearing out dugouts sometimes involved the use of grenades without warning. WP was particularly vicious. A flamethrower or machine-gun team rarely received any mercy after a hard-fought & expensive assault.
 
Haig was reasonably confident that the Territorials would fight well in a defensive battle, his main concern was their poor artillery and also the overall fitness both of the officers and men. He had every unit that was not in the line undertaking rigourous training to bring them up to the highest standards possible, he was also pushing the officers hard, once battle was joined he knew he would have to replace many of them but he would see who was fit to fight and who would be better positioned in the rear. Training battalions required officers as did they myriad of other administrative units already springing up.
This is good to see. I understand that a central part of this TL is a greater trust in, and a greater role for, the territorial army. This is, I think, well done here, but I am going to play devils advocate here for a moment.

It should be remembered that, in spite of the Territorials later successes the Regulars had reason to not want to fully rely on them. The Territorials were not trained to the same standard or the same uniformity as the regulars and their officer quality was variable and in some cases extremely poor. They did have very good morale and great enthusiasm and proved themselves more capable than expected when they were tested in combat. But they likely would have struggled more with the maneuver warfare of the opening months of the war. This was very much what the Regulars had been trained for, and where the territorials training was considered insufficient. The somewhat unusual situation of the trenches was a learning experience for everyone and kind of put everyone on a more even playing field. But the tendency of the Regular army to prefer to use territorials in auxiliary roles is pretty understandable.

It is also important to remember that though the territorial units chaffed at being used for manual labour rather than combat they were actually filling a very necessary role. The BEF had been designed for maneuver warfare, and the transition to a more siege like style of combat required a lot of labour. Even through to the end of the war, a significant problem for the BEF was the need to use large amounts of their fighting manpower in work parties. The fighting strength of units would be drawn down even in very important sectors and critical training would be slowed down by the need to detail men to construction duties. A particular innovation of the Canadian Corps late in the war was the massive expansion of the Engineers into basically a fifth division of the Corps. This allowed them to preform much more of the needed construction work (often much better than they would have done) without diluting their combat strength. This is kind of the role that the Territorials preformed in the early days of the war. And it was critical and important work. TTL's expanded BEF will also have to deal with this dilemma when they start getting to grips with the Germans.

(As a side note, you didn't necessarily have to kill off Kitchener to get the Territorials involved, you could have just had someone else as Secretary and let Kitchener go to Egypt as planned. He might have been useful as ME theater commander, but I digress.)

One area in which Haig and his fellow senior commanders had no complaints was stores and supplies. Girouard, who had been placed appointed Lieutenant General and given command of the Rear Echelon for the BEF was working miracles. The steady transfer of munitions and equipment from Britain to France and Belgium was taking place. The French railways were operating under joint control in the British sector and it was anticipated that as more men joined up the British would run their own train companies to ensure that the Logisitics situation did not worsen
Awesome to see Girouard being put in charge of railways. The guy was a bit of a genius. And his report in December 1914 basically recommended everything that Geddes would later be praised for implementing. Which is basically what he had earlier done in South Africa.
 
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Sooty

Banned
Hmmmm Did they treat all their prisoners so poorly, or just the Brits?
According to the article it was only the British, they were called the imperial assassins of ‚Äúpernicious Albion‚ÄĚ French and Belgian prisoners were treated a bit better!
 
According to the article it was only the British, they were called the imperial assassins of ‚Äúpernicious Albion‚ÄĚ French and Belgian prisoners were treated a bit better!
The fact that the Royal Navy blockade was starving their families probably had something to do with it.
 
Belgian Salient
29th August 1914, Liege.

Colonel General Helmuth von Moltke was surveying the ruins of Liege, Liege was to have been the key. It was a critical node that would enable his armies to sweep through Belgium and on into France. But with Liege destroyed that node was absent. The railways beyond Liege had been damaged but that could be made right, the damage to Liege could be made right as well but that would take time. Limited options, single tracked and slow existed to get around Liege but they were only able to move a tithe of what was needed. His armies needed food, petrol, ammunition, and most of all they needed fodder, the horses had to be feed or they would not be able to pull the thousands of carts that hauled everything else. The need to use horses instead of railways reduced his mobility to that of a Napoleonic army, his men were requisitioning everything they could from the Belgians, but it was not anywhere what he needed. In addition, it had made his army an enemy of everyone in the country, farmers had started to burn crops standing in the fields, hay in its ricks rather than see it taken for his men. Already it had been necessary to deploy more men to control the Francs-Tireurs than he had initially planned for, this was another drain on manpower and supplies that he did not need.
The 1st army was heading headfirst into a great salient, with the Belgians holding Antwerp, the British Ghent and the French and Belgians Namur. Von Moltke was starting to think the plan had failed. If Namur could be captured then the way might be open to move more supplies, but this was dependent on the Franco-Belgian defence collapsing.
The goal was to either keep trying to outflank the French and their allies by continuing to swing through Belgium or to find another gap through which his army could strike, to get behind the French and open the door to Paris. If the right wing could not do it without risking defeat and capture perhaps, it should be the left wing. Already the French armies had been bloodied and pushed back from their abortive Alsace and Lorraine campaigns, weakened by defeat, they might be the best target.
If the Entente continued to focus on Belgium and particularly Namur they would draw ever more reinforcements to the North and West. An attack by the 4th and 5th armies aimed at Sedan and Verdun might enable the pincer to cut through pocketing the French 5th army and the BEF.
Von Moltke would gather his staff and begin planning, he sent orders to Hindenburg, Von Kluck and Hausen that they were to focus their efforts on pinning the French defences on the Meuse and Sambre. Hindenburg was to continue his advance but he was to ensure that he kept his flanks secure and not get over extended.
To the commanders of the 4th 5th and 6th armies he sent orders to prepare for attacks on Sedan and Verdun.
 
1st Army changes
30th August 1914, Brussels
Von Kluck was furious, his army the great sword that was to defeat France and secure for the German Empire their rightful role as the Hegemon on Europe was to put back in its scabbard. Von Moltke had visited Liege and had lost faith in the plan. Brussels had fallen, its mayor had offered the surrender the day before and already his troops had advanced well beyond the city. No effort to defend it had been made instead the defenders and many other civilians had tried to flee before his army. His uhlans and other cavalry regiments had enveloped the city, he was happy to see the civilians flee but the Garde Civique units were to be captured or destroyed where possible.
Fortunately, the speed of his advance had been sufficient to prevent significant damage to the railway infrastructure of Brussels and once Liege was repaired, he would again be connected back to Germany by rail. But Von Moltke orders stood, he was to ensure that he remained in contact with the 2nd and 3rd army, whilst also screening against Antwerp and Liege. To that end he had new orders to issue to his own army, IV Reserve Corps was to screen the Belgian defences of Antwerp, III Reserve Corps was to advance on Ghent and screen the British troops there. IX Reserve Corps was to garrison Brussels and to provide reinforcements to III and IV Corps should they be attacked by the British and Belgian forces.
IX Corps was to maintain contact with III Reserve Corps, whilst attacking towards Courtrai. II, III, IV Corps were to attack towards Tournai. Von Kluck had also gained control of the II Cavalry Corps as the infantry marched toward Courtrai and Tournai he would use the cavalry with their superior mobility to attack towards Lille.
 
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Hey aren't we nearing the point where Von Moltke had his nervous breakdown?
Not sure that he will have one in this time line. Things have gone worse from the start so the failure of the Marne is unlikely to happen, which seems to have been the cause of the breakdown.
 
2nd Army Changes
30th August 1914, Namur.

Colonel General Von Hindenburg was as unhappy as Von Kluck, his army was moving on Namur and he expected the siege to be bloody. He would use the three Reserve corps to hold the line between 3rd army and Mons, his siege guns and other heavy artillery would begin preparing Namur for storming, the actual assault was to be by the Guards Corps under the command of Von Plettenberg. The remaining two corps would attack to the west of Mons aiming for Valenciennes, the Guards Reserve Corps would screen the 4 divisions of the British Expeditionary Corps centred on Mons pinning them in place and enabling VII and X Corps to outflank them to the west crossing the Mons-Condee Canal in the region of Pommeroeul. The other advantage of outflanking the British forces was that it would separate them from the channel ports and their sources of supply forcing them to fight.
 
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